Women have started watering their leaf vein networks. On June 15, under the auspices of the Ministry of Gender Equality and the management of Bizwoman, the 'Cyber Mentoring' sisterhood ceremony was held at the Seoul Women's Plaza, where 100 mentor-mentee pairs met for the first time. The 200 women who participated in the ceremony soon broke the ice to show unreserved sisterly affection, calling one other 'big sister' or 'little sister.'
"Women have started watering their leaf vein networks." This is what the Mistress of Ceremonies Prof. Lee Ju Hyang said as she launched the ceremony. This 'leaf vein network' is a network of juniors supporting seniors and seniors in turn 'watering' their juniors. It is a new kind of human network amongst women that distinguishes itself from the so-called old boys' connections dominated by men. (Translator's note: in Korean, 'leaf vein' and 'connections' have similar pronunciations.)
The launching was followed by a video prepared by teenagers to help participants grasp the concept of cyber mentoring. The teenagers succeeded in highlighting the appeal of cyber mentoring as an open space in which women, who have fewer opportunities than men to become socially active, can lend their support to each other.
In her congratulatory speech, Minister of Gender Equality Han Myung Sook said that "by sharing their life experiences with mentees, mentors can bring hope to women's efforts to build promising futures for themselves." She also promised to "provide support so that women can break away from the vicious circle of being blocked from and eventually giving up on social life, to become the principles in the making of history." The Minister also appointed as honorary mentors 8 women including Kim Hyun Ja (former congresswoman), Jang Myung Su (president of Hankuk Ilbo) and Mo Hye Jeong (Professor of Physics, Ehwa Women's University).
Honorary mentors are appointed as elders in each professional field. In the field of education, elders include president Jang Sang of Ehwa Women's University, General Yang Seung Sook, professor of modern dance Yook Wan Soon and writer Park Wan Seo.
Speaking as the representative of the regular mentors, congresswoman Heo Woon Na gave a fitting speech as a politician in the digital age; "By making use of the online network, the biggest resource of the 21st century, cyber mentoring will be a space filled with love where women scattered like sand on a beach can come together and help each other grow."
Lee Sook Young, who drew much attention as the first and youngest female senior managing director in LG CNS said, "Through conversations with woman employees in my company, I realized that they were repeating the difficulties I had gone through." Lee promised that she would "participate actively in making women the main players in society."
The highlight of the event was when the mentors and mentees pinned on each other the cyber-mentoring badge consisting of two leaves, one gold and one silver, meeting in the shape of a pearl. It was a grand ritual that proclaimed the formation of the leaf vein network for women. The mentor-mentee pairs chosen as the prime examples of cyber mentoring were the Hong Eun Kyung-Ju Young Hee couple and the Cho Yoon Sook-Son Bo Hye couple. The two pairs reported on their progress to date and future plans.
Cho and Son even had nicknames for each other, calling each other Eliza and Viki instead of 'big sister' and 'younger sister' in order to create an equal relationship. Their display of affection was the envy of other participants.
A ritual is always followed by festivities and this was no exception. The festive mood started out with a game of heart binding led by Park Lee Jeong Hwa and quickly mounted with a dance performance by Jin So Won. Following a mellow pop song by Cho Se Na, feminist singer Ahn Hye Kyung's passionate rendition of 'To My Big Sis' brought all the participants to their feet as they sang along.
Na Seon Mi and Na Eun Hee, looking very much like close mother and daughter, said that it was a thrill to meet each other offline for the first time. It was a special time too for Mentor Lee Seung Ja, a TV program writer, because her mentee Kang Han Kyung is currently taking the same TV program writer course that she herself took. She promised to form a comfortable senior-junior relationship with Kang while acting as a faithful advisor to the mentee on her path to become a TV program writer.
Having shared their warmth and sincerity, the 100 pairs of participants concluded the ceremony by promising to continue nurturing and maturing through their online meetings.
'As I was walking down the dark road all alone, you came to light up the way. I'm thinking of you now, big sister. With an overflowing heart I call your name.'